Speaking the Language of Marketing to Executives – Or Not

What?Your CEO doesn’t care about your SEO data. 

When I have conversations with fellow marketers, we often fall into the lingo of marketing. We talk about SEO and CPC and then we ask each other if we’ve figured out the website CSS or found a new framework for the next marketing campaign. If you’re a marketer, these are all words that have full meaning for you and you know exactly what I was talking about.

But what if you’re not a marketer? What if you a CFO, more comfortable with cash flow or net revenue than SEO? Or a CEO focused on strategy and capital allocation? Or any number of other executives within a company that doesn’t think about the technical aspects of marketing on a regular basis? If a marketer starts discussing what they are working on in technical marketing terms, such an executive is going to glaze over pretty quickly. When we, as marketers, speak with executives, even ones who are marketing savvy, we have to be careful that we don’t fall into marketing techno-babble, and focus on the end results that the executives really care about.

Your CEO wants to hear about results tied to financial data.

The CEO wants to know if the marketing strategies and tactics that I am executing will increase revenue. They want to know that the marketing work the company is investing in is increases qualified leads for the sales team. They want to know that the investment the company is making in marketing will positively impact the company. Find some of the cool tools developed by various marketing automation companies (Hubspot and Marketo are great places to start) and figure out how the work you’re doing as a marketer is making a difference on the company’s revenue. Show them how the marketing campaign you just ran increased qualified leads and therefore higher close rate for the sales team. Or show them how the online campaign led to an increase in direct sales online. Show the executives data on financial results. Show them the return on investment (ROI) of the work happening in the land of marketing.

So the next time your CEO asks you how things are going in the marketing department, don’t tell them that your SEO ranking has improved 5% or that the website blog readership has increased by 10%. Tell them the latest marketing campaign resulted in a 15% increase in qualified leads for the sales team which led to a 2x higher close rate. Or that the new online website has increase online sales by 25%. Of course, the data has to be accurate and will depend on your marketing focus. Share how your marketing work is increasing revenue or reducing costs. Show them the financial impact of what you’re doing as a marketer. And don’t revert to marketing technical jargon.

When you can link your marketing campaigns to revenue and profit numbers, your CEO has an easier time supporting your budget needs. Which means you can get the budget you need and can show more financial results to the CEO. Which is a win for everyone.

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